Call for Edna's Law and a public inquiry into whistle-blowing
Call for Edna's Law and a public inquiry into whistle-blowing
We call for:
1. Edna's Law to replace the Public Interest Disclosure Act which has failed to protect the public, the victims or the whistle-blowers.
2. A public inquiry into whistle-blowing in all sectors, ie including social care, construction, finance, education, local authorities, police, civil service, transport, military, NHS. We want it to expose wrongdoing and hold individuals and institutions to account for past cases of cover-ups and victimisation of whistle-blowers, and to recognise and compensate those who suffered detriment for doing the right thing.
- Would make it a criminal offence to fail to act on the genuine concerns of a whistle-blower and would hold individuals accountable.
- The wrongdoing would be made public in a criminal court and corrective action would be taken.
- Edna's Law would put the victims of silence first and would protect the protectors who report wrongdoing.
- The State would prosecute and uphold the public interest (instead of expecting the whistle-blower to become a legal expert in order to represent themself effectively at an employment tribunal against experienced barristers).
- Edna's Law would be a deterrent because it would create strong case law precedents.
- The whistle-blower would be a protected witness. It would be a criminal offence to harm a genuine whistle-blower.
- Bad companies and organisations would be held to account, resulting in real culture change.
- The whistle-blower would be compensated for loss of trust and loss of employment. NB this does not mean "rewards or bounties" as some organisations want - we simply want proper compensation for losses incurred because you can never put a price on human life or suffering. eg Would the life or suffering of a vulnerable child or adult be "worth" less than a banking loss? NO. A genuine whistler doesn't stand around thinking "How much will I get for reporting this?" and to suggest "rewards or bounties" is grossly insulting.
A law that protects whistle-blowers protects us all, and that is what Edna's Law would do. Together we can break the shameful chain of complacency, ignorance, denial and silence so please sign and share this petition now.
Here are just a few well-known cases of deaths and serious harm which were ALL preventable if whistleblowers had been listened to or if others had not been too scared to speak up: Gosport, Mid Staffs, Bristol Babies, Jimmy Savile, Piper Alpha, Clapham train crash, Herald of Free Enterprise, Rotherham, Hammersmith Radiology.
Imagine how much suffering could have been avoided if only someone had come forward years ago to tell the truth about various major cases now going through public inquiries and legal proceedings.
All these are well documented but many more cases never make the news. Edna’s Law will break that silence.
The reality for whistle-blowers includes harassment, physical assault, suspension, false counter-allegations, dismissal, loss of income, unemployment, ill-health, high legal fees, months or years of stress, loss of homes, broken relationships and family break-ups. Their relatives, even young children and terminally ill relatives, have been targeted for indirect reprisals at school and in healthcare. That shameful fact shows how low some will go to retaliate against those who speak up.
All that is bad enough - but no action is taken on the wrongdoing or risks, which continue unchecked, covered up by employers, regulators and employment tribunals. Other workers see this and decide it is safer to stay silent so the cycle of wrongdoing continues. PIDA cases are said to be "an employment issue" so the employment tribunals may reject evidence claiming it is not relevant, even though the whistleblower's reported concerns clearly relate to the public interest.
Would YOU report wrongdoing or risks if you knew what the consequences would be for you and your family? And if you knew that the law would not protect you? And if it still wouldn't stop the wrongdoing or risk anyway?
Please sign the petition now to stop needless suffering and risk.
The alternative would be to do nothing and just wait for the inevitable news of the next case of avoidable harm or death - which might affect YOU or your loved ones. People are suffering and dying today, and others being harmed or put at risk (even though they may not know it) because whistle-blowers are ignored and victimised and others are too scared to speak up. This affects everyone.
Which will you choose? Please sign now.
We hope we have already convinced you to sign. If you need more detailed information before you sign, please read on.....
Background details and examples:
Edna's Law is based on evidence from the first 1500 whistle-blowers who contacted Compassion In Care This has now increased to over 7000 who all confirm the need for this law. The evidence has already been given to many Government ministers and MPs. Please ask your MP about Edna's Law.
Edna was a defenceless elderly lady with no family. She died after terrible abuse in a BUPA care home even though it had been reported by no less than SEVEN care workers to Des Kelly. He was not at arm’s length, he was directly involved as the decision maker and the whistleblowers gave him personally the evidence in a formal meeting with the prescribed regulator under PIDA. Des Kelly also heard it afterwards in a court as he sat through every day of the employment tribunal of the BUPA7, as they became known.
He rose to become "Sir Des Kelly OBE" and an advisor to the Government and CQC on elderly care, and head of the National Care Forum and on DEMOS. We often refer to him because all the evidence is available on what he did, there is no "grey area" or room for interpretation, it is all documented fact in the public domain. Shocking documents are continuing to come to light and will be published in the near future. All those who have harboured him will also be held to account.
He is just one of many wrongdoers who have never been held accountable for their actions and now hold senior positions - this is at the root of why whistleblowers are still victimised or ignored, because wrongdoers like Des Kelly escape accountability.
The BUPA7 lost their jobs but the wrongdoing was not put right, the abusers continued abusing, and Edna died. Four years later it was revealed that people had continued to suffer in that home. Imagine how much preventable suffering that was.
Failures in legal protection demonstrated by the BUPA7 case left a toxic legacy, because it told BUPA and other employers that they could get away with ignoring concerns and victimising whistleblowers in spite of the Public Interest Disclosure Act which had just come in at that time. This sent a strong message to other workers to stay silent for fear of ending up unemployed like the BUPA7.
PIDA failed the BUPA7 and it still fails today's whistleblowers as comments on this petition demonstrate. Employment tribunals hear PIDA cases but have no power to make sure problems are put right - so whistle-blowers lose their jobs and still the wrongdoing and risks they reported continue unchecked.
The 2015 Francis Review and the new National Guardian will do nothing to protect whistleblowers or encourage anyone else to raise concerns because the recommendations rely on policies, procedures, employers and regulators – which include the very same people who have “got away with” cover-ups, ignoring concerns, and victimising whistle-blowers for many years.
The Francis "Freedom to Speak Up" review in 2015 was an expensive public relations sham, and held no wrongdoers to account. We say it never intended to and here is why: Robert Francis is on the CQC, which has invited Des Kelly's input even though Des Kelly had ignored seven whistleblowers and had deliberately put an abuser in at least three BUPA care homes.
The CQC has ignored multiple whistle-blowers, eg the abuse at Winterbourne View and Old Deanery, and many more. Is that so surprising when they have included in their press releases a significant contribution from Des Kelly, the man who could have prevented Edna’s death but chose not to? Instead he deliberately gave Edna’s worst abuser access to other defenceless people to torment.
Compassion In Care and Private Eye joint investigations have proved that the CQC lied and misled the public for many years but no-one was held accountable. The CQC falsely claimed it had closed 100 care homes, an outright lie as it was only two. They have been complicit in re-registering care homes as "new" under slightly different names, but the same ownership, in order to hide bad inspection reports.
Now the supposedly "independent" new National Guardian for the NHS is to be overseen by.....you guessed it......the CQC.
It's like the story of The Emperor's New Clothes - the evidence, in this case of wrongdoing and complicity, is there in plain sight for all to see, but most are scared to point it out or just can't believe what they see. But Robert Francis and many others in Parliament and the care sector know it is true because we have presented the evidence. Many are "Guilty By Association", because by praising and harbouring wrongdoers, they are complicit in the wrongdoing.
This isn't a fairy story. People are suffering right now so we're speaking up loud and clear that Edna's Law is needed to protect the public.
Whistleblowing helplines paid for by employers can never be independent - they protect the employer, not the employee because they make their income by selling policies and procedures to employers so their loyalty is to their customer.
After Mid-Staffs, Robert Francis spoke a lot about "changing the culture" but clearly it didn't work, because he was shocked by how many people told him they still felt unable to speak up. Many trusted the Francis Review and hoped it would be a turning point. But as whistle-blowers, we have already been failed by his “policies and procedures”and “Guardian” approach. We have been contacted by people in roles designated "whistleblower supporter" who then lost their own job after reporting concerns themselves.
We know it doesn't work, it has never worked before and it can never work in future. We don't need any more expensive hot air about "changing the culture" - we need to change the reality and bring in Edna's Law.
More than 900 callers rang Eileen's helpline after BBC Panorama "Behind Closed Doors" Thousands more calls/emails have come in since the Francis Review. Many of these whistleblowers still experience lasting detriment, so cannot put their names publicly to the petition yet, though a lot have left public comments on the petition which shows how widespread this is.
You might ask "Why didn't they just speak up in their workplace?" But how can we expect workers to report wrongdoing when they have seen what happens to those who do? Would you?
Please help us break the shameful silence and ensure accountability – by signing Edna’s Law now.
For more information:
Breaking The Silence Parts 1, 2, 3
BBC Newsnight Hammersmith Radiology
We are sending this to all party leaders so that we can continue building support for the long term change that is needed.